DHS Releases Guide to Passport Requirements for Visa Waiver Program Travelers

The Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT Program has released a new document that clarifies the passport requirements for visitors traveling to the United States as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The "Visa Waiver Program Passport Requirement Timeline" is the definitive guide to the current passport requirements for visa-free travel and also outlines upcoming rules that will affect the admissibility of VWP travelers in the near future.

In particular, the document addresses three relevant requirements for travelers wishing to participate in the VWP: the recently passed June 26 deadline by which VWP travelers to the United States must present a machine- readable passport; the Oct. 26 deadline by which new passports issued by VWP countries must include a digital photo; and, the Oct. 26 deadline by which new passports issued by VWP countries must be e-Passports equipped with integrated computer chips capable of storing biographic information from the data page, a digitized photo and other biometric information.

There are 27 countries that participate in the VWP – a program that allows travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without a visa. The document also lists certain conditions for which a traveler would require a visa to visit the United States and provides guidance on how to apply for the visa.

The Department of Homeland Security is distributing the document directly to key travel and tourism industry stakeholders and via its Web site so that travel media and consumers will have the information they need to visit the United States. The Visa Waiver Program Passport Requirement Timeline is available online at www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/VWP_PassportRequirementTimeline_07- 2005.pdf.

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